Florida Keys' Five Distinct Destinations Are a World Away
FLORIDA KEYS – The dazzling archipelago of the Florida Keys, sometimes called America's Caribbean, is a subtropical meetings getaway that requires no passport, no customs clearance and no currency exchange.
"If you're seeking the exotic beauty of an offshore location, the allure of nature-based activities to entice participants or island-style relaxation under the Caribbean sun, the Florida Keys offer the perfect antidote for the 'been there, done that' meeting," said Jack Meier, group sales manager for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.
The 125-mile-long chain of islands is picturesquely framed by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay to the west. Much of the Keys is pristinely protected in national and state parks, wildlife refuges and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, encompassing the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef.
Clients can fly into Key West from major U.S. cities. Airlines Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Silver and United operate more than 20 nonstop U.S. routes into Key West International Airport. Many group participants, however, opt to fly into mainland South Florida and drive the famed Florida Keys Overseas Highway, or the Highway that Goes to Sea, to enjoy funky waterfront dining venues and attractions.
Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine & the Lower Keys and Key West all have unique offerings for meetings, typically with 15 to 100 participants.
The northernmost island, Key Largo, is often called the Dive Capital of the World and shelters some of Florida's most diverse botanical eco-systems.
Islamorada, with six islands, is known as the Sport Fishing Capital of the World. In addition, its Morada Way Arts & Cultural District delights those who enjoy fine art galleries.
Family-oriented Marathon offers marine attractions such as the Turtle Hospital, the world's first state-licensed veterinary hospital for sea turtles, the acclaimed Dolphin Research Center and Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.
Big Pine & the Lower Keys' small islands are home to scenic Bahia Honda State Park and the National Key Deer Refuge.
The legendary destination of Key West features a renowned historic district with more than 3,000 preserved wooden structures.
It also offers an artistic heritage and a literary legacy forever tied to writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived and wrote on the island in the 1930s. Visual artists have flocked there since John James Audubon visited in 1832, inspired by ever-changing subtropical light. And few visitors miss Key West's Mallory Square, where stunning sunsets are celebrated nightly.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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